Don’t have a Blue Monday – five reasons why it’s time to stop hating on January

It’s the most wonderful time of the year (no, really it is) according to Lizzy Dening who knows exactly how to see the jolly side of this Megxit/Brexit January

It’s Blue Monday the most depressing day of the year. My social feeds are awash with ’30 days hath September – but January has 7,000’ memes. New year diets lie by the wayside, people are clamouring for the next payday and the weather is all over the place. It’s easy to see why people loathe January – but I’m not one of them. The first month of the year is, in many ways, the best. It’s not because I’m a diet enthusiast, or Christmas bah-humbugger – more that I love the feeling of potential that comes with a clean slate. January has the same ‘back-to-school-new-notebooks’ vibe of September, but with the cosy, indoor vibe of December. Not convinced? Hear me out…

Get snugly and reflect: When you peel away the stress and pressure of the festive period, January is really what Christmas should feel like. Insular, snug, and with lots of time for reflection. Admittedly it can feel painfully long before the end of the month pay cheque, but (without being too nauseating about it) you’re left with time to focus on what matters. Spending time with friends or family, dreaming up creative projects, planning holidays and visits for the year ahead, and – for me – ploughing through a delightful pile of books from Santa.

Reconnect with people who make you feel good: December is great for seeing people but it can feel a bit exhausting and pressured (after all, it’s harder than ever to cope with feeling sad during ‘the most wonderful time of the year’). There are no expectations for this month – see people, or hibernate. It’s up to you. ‘Compared to December, January offers the luxury of getting to really choose mindfully who you spend time with,’ says psychologist Natasha Tiwari (natashatiwari.co.uk). ‘Consciously choose to reconnect with people who make you feel good, energised, support you and inspire you to believe that you can create all you wish to in this new year ahead.’

Dry January

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Veg out on veg: While it’s fun to eat crap and stop moving throughout Dec, it’s clearly not good for us. We tend to start the new year feeling grumpy and constipated, so it’s nice to slowly unravel that. Eat more veg, start moving again in a way that feels good. There’s plenty of variety easily available when it comes to seasonal goodness. ‘Leafy green veg are in abundance, which are rich in nutrients like folate and magnesium, helping our brain, detoxification, hormones, and mood,’ says Jodie Brandman, a Nutritional Therapist (jodiebrandman.com). ‘You’ve also got the root vegetables and squashes, which are rich in things like beta carotene, helping your eyesight and progesterone (amazing for hormone health and fertility).’

Lower the booze to lift your mood: If you’re having a month off the booze (or at least not drinking every day like at Christmas) you should already be feeling the benefits on your mood. ‘I love Dry January as it frees up the liver, allowing it to do what it does best and filter out toxins from our environment and excess hormones in our body,’ says Brandman. ‘Alcohol can negatively affect our moods, so getting rid of it just helps everything really.’

Blue Monday

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Focus on the positives: ‘But, Lizzy’, I hear you cry, ‘can you just shut up? I’ve broken my resolutions and I feel crap about myself.’‘Ditch them,’ says Confidence Coach Lizi Jackson-Barrett. ‘Instead of focusing on the things you think you need to change about yourself from last year, spend some time thinking about what aspects of 2019 you’re most proud of and that you can carry forwards into 2020. Maybe last year you started to learn a new skill; perhaps you made more time for self-care or maybe you stood up for yourself and it felt good. Forget about what you’re not doing well enough and think about what you’re already doing exactly well enough.’

January is, after all, the month of time travel. It’s the only time we look both backwards and forwards, and really take stock of whether our lives are heading in the right direction or not. Consider setting a new goal that’s a bit more creative or gentle than ‘lose weight’. Why not set yourself a target number of books to read this year (Goodreads is a fun way to keep track and record your reviews)? Or try your hand at volunteering – not only will you make new friends and make a difference to those less fortunate, but you’ll feel so damn good about yourself that you’ll care less about whether or not you’ve eaten too many cakes this week.

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